Dis­cour­age­ment: Our great­est en­emy

El Dorado News-Times - - Living - JIM DAVID­SON

It is just com­mon sense to re­al­ize that we can­not do our best when we are deeply dis­cour­aged. We all get dis­cour­aged from time to time, but when we get deeply dis­cour­aged, that is a very dif­fer­ent mat­ter and can lead to all kinds of neg­a­tive con­se­quences. We had a sad sit­u­a­tion some­time back here in one of our pub­lic schools when two stu­dents com­mit­ted sui­cide in a span of only three weeks. While I don’t know the de­tails, need­less to say these stu­dents were so deeply dis­cour­aged that they did not see any way out, short of end­ing it all.

Now this is so tragic, es­pe­cially for the fam­i­lies, teach­ers and fel­low stu­dents who are deeply af­fected and will be im­pacted for the rest of their lives. While it is too late for these stu­dents and count­less others like them, it is not too late for the rest of us. If you hap­pen to be a per­son who is dis­cour­aged, or have a ten­dency to be­come deeply dis­cour­aged, I want to share a story I heard re­cently that could re­veal the source of your dis­cour­age­ment.

“Once upon a time, Satan, grow­ing old and weary, de­cided it was time for him to re­tire from ac­tive work. He of­fered each of his dev­il­ish in­ven­tory of tools for sale to the high­est bid­ders. At the time of the auc­tion, the tools were all neatly ar­ranged: envy, mal­ice, en­mity, sen­su­al­ity, de­ceit and all the other de­vices of evil. Each was plainly marked, and the price was sur­pris­ingly low, ex­cept for the un­gainly piece of much used steel marked “dis­cour­age­ment.” It was marked 10 times more than any of the other tools.

A prospec­tive buyer asked, “Why, Mr. Satan, do you ask so much for this tool?” “Well”, replied the old tempter, “this tool has al­ways been my most use­ful one. You can see that it has more wear than any of the others. I can use it as a wedge to get into a per­son’s mind and de­feat him, when all other means fail.” If this story has any truth to it, and I

be­lieve that it does, we can plainly see that Satan is the source of dis­cour­age­ment. He wants us to give up, sit down and wal­low around in self-pity.

If and when we al­low this to hap­pen, we cer­tainly won’t ac­com­plish any­thing worth­while for God, our fel­low man, or any­one else, in­clud­ing our­selves. The only way to over­come dis­cour­age­ment is by in­tel­li­gent ac­tion. Once we de­cide to do some­thing worth­while and get started, we will soon find that dis­cour­age­ment will leave us. The ex­act op­po­site of dis­cour­age­ment is courage, and this is sim­ply the qual­ity of mind that meets dan­ger or op­po­si­tion with firm­ness.

Iso­lated per­for­mances of great deeds do not make in­di­vid­u­als, he­roes or cow­ards; they sim­ply re­veal char­ac­ter to the eyes of others. Ev­ery suc­cess­ful life needs chal­lenges, hur­dles to over­come, and prob­lems to solve in or­der to bring the power of courage into play. God has given us a will, and in Amer­ica we have the free­dom and op­por­tu­nity to make choices. In ev­ery im­por­tant de­ci­sion in life, God votes for us, Satan votes against us, it’s left to each of us to break the tie.

What I have shared ap­plies even more so when we be­come ma­ture adults, but we must keep in mind that most young peo­ple are not ma­ture adults and they are still frag­ile and search­ing for their iden­tity. We should al­ways be sen­si­tive to others, and when we de­tect a deep-seated dis­cour­age­ment, make them feel truly loved. This is the best cure of all.

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